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John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776
sheet 45 of 53, 13 September 1776


as delivered by General Sullivan, and the Resolution of Congress, in consequence thereof, be published by the Committee, who brought in the foregoing report.
Ordered that the said Committee publish Lord Drummonds Letters to General Washington and the Generals Answers.
Two or three Circumstances, which are omitted in this report, and indeed not thought worth notice in any of my private Letters, I afterwards found circulated in Europe, and oftener repeated than any other Part of this whole Transaction. Lord How was profuse in his Expressions of Gratitude to the State of Massachusetts, for erecting a marble Monument in Westminster Abbey to his Elder Brother Lord How who was killed in America in the last French War, saying "he esteemed that Honour to his Family, above all Things in this World. That such was his gratitude and affection to this Country, on that Account, that he felt for America, as for a Brother, and if America should fall, he should feel and lament it, like the Loss of a Brother." Dr. Franklin, with an air cool an easy Air and a collected Countenance Countenance, with a Bowand a Smile and all that Naivetee which sometimes appeared in his Conversation and is often observed in his Writings, replied "My Lord, We will do our Utmost Endeavours, to save your Lordship that mortification." His Lordship appeared to feel this, with more Sensibility, than I could expect: but he only returned "I suppose you will endeavour to give Us employment in Europe." To this Observation, not a Word nor a look from which he could draw any Inference, escaped any of the Committee.
Another Circumstance, of no more importance than the former, was so much celebrated in Europe, that it has often reminded me of the Question of Phocion to his Fellow Citizen, when something he had said in Public was received by the People of Athens with a clamorous Applause, "Have I said any foolish Thing?" -- When his Lordship observed to Us, that he could not  [illegible confer with Us as Members of Congress, or public Characters, but only as private Persons and British Subjects, Mr. John Adams answered somewhat quickly, "Your Lordship may consider

me, in what light you please; and indeed I should be willing to consider myself, for a few moments, in any Character which would be agreable to your Lordship, except that of a British Subject." His Lordship at these Words turn'd to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Rutledge and said "Mr. Adams is a decided Character:" with so much gravity and solemnity: that I now believe it meant more, than either of my Colleagues or myself understood at the time. In our report to Congress We supposed that the Commissioners, Lord and General Howe, had by their Commission Power to [except] from Pardon all that they should think proper. But I was informed in England, afterwards, that a Number were expressly excepted by Name from Pardon, by the privy Council, and that John Adams was one of them, and that this List of Exceptions was given as an Instruction to the two Howes, with their Commission. When I was afterwards a Minister Plenipotentiary, at the Court of St. James's The King and the Ministry, were often insulted, ridiculed and reproached in the Newspapers, for having conducted with so much folly as to be reduced to the humiliating Necessity of receiving as an Ambassador a Man who stood recorded by the privy Council as excepted from P a Rebell expressly excepted from Pardon. If this is true it will account for his Lordships gloomy denunciation of me, as "a decided Character." -- Some years afterwards, when I resided in England as a public Minister, his Lordship recollected and alluded to this Conversation with great politeness and much good humour. Att the Ball, on the Queens Birthnight, I was at a Loss for the Seats assigned to the foreign Ambassadors and their Ladies. Fortunately meeting Lord How at the Door I asked his Lordship, where were the Ambassadors Seats. His Lordship with his usual politeness, and an unusual Smile of good humour, pointed to the Seats, and manifestly alluding to the Conversation on Staten Island said, "Aye! Now, We must turn you away among the foreigners."
The Conduct of General Sullivan, in consenting to come to Philadelphia, upon so confused an Errand from Lord Howe, though his Situation as a Prisoner

was a temptation and may be considered as some Apology for it, appeared to me to betray so much such Want of Penetration and fortitude, and there was so little precision in the Information he communicated that I felt much resentment and more contempt upon the Occasion than was perhaps just. The time was extreamly critical. The Attention of Congress, the Army, the States and the People ought to have been wholly directed to the Defence of the Country. To have it diverted and relaxed by such a poor Artifice and confused tale, appeared very reprehensible. To a few of my most confidential friends, I expressed my feelings, in a very few Words, which I found time to write: and all the Letters, of which I find Copies, in my Letter Book, are here subjoined, relative to this Transaction from its Beginning to its End.


Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776, sheet 45 of 53 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 1, "John Adams," through 1776. Part 1 is comprised of 53 sheets and 1 insertion; 210 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 3. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.
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